My writing group re-convened for a potluck and a social evening last night. We went around the room. It was time to share about the summer. It felt like one of those, What I did on my Summer Vacation exercises they used to spring on us in elementary school.
What did we do for fun? Had we been writing? Did we get much reading done? One person went to Portugal on a formal writing retreat that tapped into her Portuguese ancestry. One person took up running and came to the realization that writing narrative non fiction maybe isn’t really her thing. Although, I’m not totally convinced of that for her. Someone else took a vacation on Vancouver Island in a cabin with his fiancé and another couple. Another treated her writing like a job, 9-4, and finally finished the draft of a manuscript she’d started the year before. Another one was kind to herself, in her recovery from major surgery, and still managed to plug along on her family memoir and find a residency to look forward to for January-February back in her homeland of New Zealand. And, then, oh look, here’s me.
I realized that this summer had passed and I really didn’t have a lot to say. My vacations were minor as in “don’t blink” or like Spuzzum B.C., you’ll miss them. I went to Salt Spring and Fairhaven in Washington State, and to Whistler, B.C. for a few days each. That’s it. I was an outlier in the recent stats that reveal Canadians have been travelling more than ever according to those who keep track of such things. I took in a few festivals: Folk, Powell Street, Harmony Arts.
I completed an article for Canadian Living magazine. I wrote a few stories on occupational health and safety. I sent out a few queries. I spent time participating in the development of this website. I attended meetings related to the launch of our Anthology upcoming in October. I’d attended a few short writing-related seminars put on by mentors of The Writer’s Studio and was hired to develop a new tagline for a friend’s business. I felt like I was tempting physical fate climbing to the top of Grouse Mountain on the BCMC trail on the August long weekend.
Almost every day I’ve worked on some form of writing, from 8:00 am onwards, stories or editing. And, by 1:00 pm getting out of the house was a necessity. Sometimes I daytripped: Crescent Beach, White Rock, Ladner, Westham Island, Ambleside,or just a walk up to Queen’s Park and a visit to the library. But, really, two months have passed this way? Really? That’s it? In broad strokes, that’s all I’ve done?
So, you could say that last night made one thing crystal clear. Yet again. Goals. Blasted goals. Write them down. Must keep track of how I’m spending each day so that I am not freaked out when I reflect back and can’t understand how two months, 60 days, could have passed already.
At the same time, I strongly believe in having faith in personal rhythms. To recognize that there’s a time to fling oneself into the world and just as importantly, a time to retreat. A time for adventure and a time for sitting alone facing a computer screen. A time to read. A time to turn inward, to reflect on what I’m doing and why and how to make it work better. And, that part, newsflash, is not sexy or interesting if looked upon from the outside. There’s not all that much to say really. Except, in a world where perception sometimes feels like more than everything, it’s a personal test to be okay with the quietude of a cycle where you must be in the background, the personal mindset required for percolation of ideas that writing, inevitably, is so dependent upon.